One PhD position in evolutionary ecology and functional genomics is available at at Bielefeld University in the Evolutionary Biology group (with PD Dr Tim Schmoll, see in collaboration with the Department of Animal Behaviour (with Dr Peter Korsten, see The position is available immediately for 36 months and is funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) within the recently approved collaborative research centre: A Novel Synthesis of Individualisation across Behaviour, Ecology and Evolution: Niche Choice, Niche Conformance, Niche Construction (NC3).

The goal of this project (project B04 of the collaborative research centre) is to test how male Zebra Finches conform to their social niche as set by the prevailing level of sperm competition. This will allow us to understand how individual variation in sexual competition generates individual variation, and covariation, in both competitive traits and parenting behaviour.

The successful candidate will closely work together with another PhD student to (i) quantify male social niche conformance by analysing adjustment of sexual competitiveness including behavioural (e.g. aggression) and ejaculate (e.g. sperm motility) traits; (ii) identify the underlying mechanisms of social niche conformance on the hormonal (via endocrinological profiling) and the gene expression (via RNAseq) levels; (iii) assess the adaptive significance of niche conformance under a niche match/mismatch paradigm; and (iv) test for trade-offs between investment in sexual competitiveness versus paternal care. A sub-project A will primarily focus on male social niche conformance through adjustment of behavioural traits and the hormonal mechanisms underlying niche conformance. A sub-project B will primarily focus on male social niche conformance through adjustment of ejaculate traits and the gene expression underlying niche conformance. Note that the position offered here is exclusively for sub-project B.

The collaborative research centre: The position will be embedded within a larger collaborative research centre (SFB) comprising 18 principle investigators, 8 postdocs and 16 PhD students based at Bielefeld University, the University of Münster and the University of Jena. The aim of the SFB is to produce a conceptual and empirical synthesis of individualisation across behaviour, ecology and evolution. The SFB will provide exceptional opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration and academic networking, together with structured training, scientific exchange and early career support programmes. Full details of the SFB can be found at

Main responsibilities
• Research tasks (90%):
◦ Designing and conducting laboratory experiments in which zebra finch males are exposed to different levels of sperm competition
◦ Maintaining a zebra finch stock population and breeding of experimental birds
◦ Processing of tissue samples for transcriptomic analyses
◦ Bioinformatic processing of high-throughput sequencing data to quantify gene expression
◦ Assisting in setting up a computer-assisted sperm analysis (CASA) system
◦ Phenotyping sperm samples using CASA and other methods
◦ Assisting in taking behavioural recordings
◦ Statistical analyses of experimental data
◦ Collaborating with other research groups in the collaborative research centre
◦ Writing scientific publications for international peer-reviewed journals
• Organizational tasks in the research groups and collaborative research centre (10%)

Applicants’ profiles
We are seeking a bright, highly motivated and creative student with
• a university degree in a relevant discipline with specializations in one or more of the following fields: bioinformatics, transcriptomics/genomics, animal behaviour, behavioural ecology, behavioural physiology, evolutionary ecology, and/or veterinary science,
• a keen interest in using molecular genetic methods to answer behavioural and life history questions,
• experience with bioinformatic processing of high-throughput sequencing data or a keen interest in acquiring relevant skills,
• experience with statistical analysis (preferably using R),
• ability to work both independently and as part of a team, and
• excellent oral and written communication skills in English.

The following qualifications would additionally be of advantage:
• publications in peer-reviewed international journals,
• experience with sperm phenotyping including CASA
• experience with large-scale research projects.

Salary will be paid according to remuneration level 13 (65%) of the Wage Agreement for Public Service in the Federal States (TV-L) which amounts to approximately 65% of € 3600.- = € 2350.- per month before tax and in addition offers various social benefits. Bielefeld University is particularly committed to the career development of its employees. It offers attractive internal and external training. Employees have the opportunity to use a variety of health, counselling, and prevention programmes. Bielefeld University places great importance on a work–family balance for all its employees.

Application procedure
To apply, please provide: (i) a letter of motivation (maximum two pages) including a statement of your research interests, and skills and experience relevant to the position; (ii) a CV including your publication list; (iii) names and contact details of two referees willing to write confidential letters of recommendation. All materials should be emailed as a single PDF file to both principal investigators: and Review of applications will begin May 3rd 2018 and continue until the position is filled. The successful candidate should start as soon as possible after the decision. For further information on the project and the departments, please contact Tim Schmoll or Peter Korsten with any informal inquiries.

Bielefeld is a city of 325,000 inhabitants with all expected amenities and easy access to the Teutoburger Wald for hiking and other outdoor pursuits. It offers a high standard of living and is well connected to most major European cities. Bielefeld University has received a number of awards for its achievements in the provision of equal opportunity and has been recognized as a family friendly university. The University welcomes applications from women. This is particularly true with regard both to academic and technical posts as well as positions in Information Technology and Trades and Craft. Applications are handled according to the provisions of the state equal opportunity statutes. Applications from suitably qualified handicapped and severely handicapped persons are explicitly encouraged.